The Bible class teacher said, “Women are the servant of men.” God does not set women up to be abused, but this weekend, I could see that people at church can do that. The Bible doesn’t say anywhere that women are the servants of men. The same Bible class teacher had asked for prayers for losing his temper. It makes me worry for his wife. I was married for 25 years to a preacher who thought just the way this guy thinks, and he couldn’t understand that he wasn’t the center of the universe. If I didn’t do things his way, he took my arms by force and made me do what he wanted, and he hurt me. He was “the man,” and so everything was supposed to be his way. I actually felt like my husband was the most selfish person in the universe, but as I hear some others talk, I realize that perhaps he isn’t the only one. Perhaps it is an epidemic among men in churches. I won’t and can’t go into the things my husband did, but God never commanded women to become men’s servants. Churches need to be careful because if they don’t take the whole scriptures, women could be in danger just trying to be good Christian wives.
Yesterday morning, the preacher said, “The woman is the tool of the man. That is why God made her.” However, a woman is not something to be used. In Genesis 2, when God decided to make woman, he said, “It is not good that man should be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2: 18). A helper is not “a tool.” A tool is an inanimate object without feelings. Genesis chapter 2 goes on to explain that woman was formed from the rib of man. Man was made from dust, but woman was made from the rib of man. She is part of him to be loves and cherished, not to be used.
In Genesis 3, the serpent deceived the woman, and she ate of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. After that, the man ate willingly of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. Is it better to be tricked into doing something wrong or to intentionally do something you know is wrong? The man knew he was doing wrong when he sinned. The woman was tricked. Both did wrong, but no one talked the man into it. When God approached Adam and Eve about it, Adam wasn’t a bit loyal, and didn’t hesitate to sell Eve out (Genesis 3:12). Where was the love? He blamed it all on Eve, but he is the one who sinned with his eyes open.
Later in Genesis 3, when God threw them out of the garden, he told man it was his responsibility to work to provide food. God no longer gave Adam and Eve food they could just pick off the trees. God told Eve that her desire would be for her husband. That means that she would want to be with man. She would want everything to be good for him. She would spend her life trying to please him, but he didn’t say to the man, “Now, you are the Lord of the woman, and she is your servant.” The woman’s punishment was not becoming a slave to man. The woman’s punishment was pain in child bearing (Genesis 3:16). God gave the woman a desire to be with her husband, but he never said to the man “You must become her Lord and Master.”
Over in the New Testament, the preacher used a scripture from 1 Timothy. He seemed to be taking scriptures out of context. He tried to make 1 Timothy 2:11-15 into a law about how women should be looked at and treated. If I thought that I had to bear children in order to be a Christian, it would really drive me crazy. That scripture is comparing the women in the town where Timothy was to Eve because they were both deceived. Eve was deceived by Satan in the garden just as the women in church where Timothy was were deceived by false teachers (2 Timothy 3: 5 &6).
If you look back to the beginning of 1 Timothy, in the first chapter, right after the salutation in verse 3, there is a thesis sentence for Timothy. A thesis sentence tells you what everything else is going to be about. Paul was writing to Timothy giving him instructions on how to clean up the mess of the false teachers. In 2 Timothy, it is clear that the women had been taught by false teachers and were going from house to house teaching the false teachings. Paul’s solution for these women was for them to stop going from house to house because they had been deceived just as Eve had been deceived and stay home and take care of their kids. This didn’t mean that all women everywhere couldn’t be trusted or didn’t have a brain. 1 & 2 Timothy were letters written from Paul to Timothy to help him clean a mess up in the church. Women are not inherently bad, so need the men to rule them. That is not what these verses are saying. Paul was not making a general statement about all women. If he was, he could just have easily have compared the men to Adam and talk about how they sin willfully, but all men everywhere don’t sin willfully just as all women everywhere are not deceived. Adam and Eve sinned, but that doesn’t mean that all men are Adam and all women are Eve. Paul was using the comparison with Eve to tell Timothy that those women in his town had been deceived like Eve had been deceived.
This kind of thinking can really lead to abuse. Men begin thinking women don’t have brains. I knew a man from Myanmar who was having trouble getting his masters in Theology because in his thesis there was an overall tone in his writing that women were inferior to men. The Theology professors in charge of his masters program sent him to me for help. He told me that in his country women were considered not smart and not allowed to have an education or even talk to their husbands. I showed him scriptures, and showed him that women were important to God and not to be looked at as second class citizens or stupid. The Jews actually prayed a prayer that you can find on the internet where the men thank God that they were not made women. God doesn’t feel that way. One of the big draws of Christianity was that Jesus was teaching both men and women. He didn’t think only the men were important. Yes, the apostles were men, but in Acts 2, Luke was quoting verses from the Old Testament about signs that the church had come, and he said a sign that even women would receive the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control…Galatians 5:22 & 23) and be able to preach (Acts 2: 17 & 18). Philip had four daughters who preached (Acts 21:9). Does this mean I am ready to put women in the pulpits? No. If we begin putting women in the pulpits in our culture, it will cause trouble. However, it means that women don’t need to be underestimated because, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3: 28 & 29). Women are just as important to God as men are, and we are not considered to be of lower intelligence by God. The man from Myanmar used the scriptures I gave him. He took them into his heart and vowed to go home and make sure that women were treated better. He rewrote his thesis, and he was able to get his masters in Theology, but what can I do when I am sitting in Bible classes in America that lead to the kind of thinking that women are inferior? God never says women are second class citizens. God never says women are stupid. God never says women are the servants of men or the tools of men.
Men love being “the head.” In Colossians 3:18-25, the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Colosse. The thesis in this book is in Colossians the fist chapter in verses 9 & 10. The reason this book was written was for the church in Colosse to have more knowledge of how to conduct themselves as Christians. It seems that this is not as specific as the letters Paul wrote to Timothy, 1 & 2 Timothy. These are not rules to stop false teaching in the town where Timothy was, but they are rules to live as a Christian. That is what we all want to know how to do. The problem that arises is the proof texting. They don’t include all the verses, but stop and just want to quote, “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands as is fitting in the Lord” (Colossians 3:18). Men love to quote that verse, and some even try to say that every woman is subject to every man because of this, but that is not what it says, and the verse was not meant to be read out of context. The next verse says, “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them” (Colossians 3:19). Not only is the wife supposed to listen to her husband, but the husband is supposed to love his wife and be good to her. If he is loving her and being good to her, she is not treated like a servant. She isn’t screamed at. She isn’t forced into doing whatever the selfish man wants. She is not forced physically. She is not to be treated like “a tool.” She is not an inanimate object with no feelings. She is not there for men to use. She is there for men to love. Now a days, many women go out to work in America, and then when they come home, the husband sits in front of the TV and relaxes after his long day at work, and the wife comes home after her long day at work, and she has to get dinner, wash the clothes, do the dishes, take out the trash, sweep the floor, and take care of the kids. She isn’t allowed to sit on the couch like her husband. She has taken Adam’s part of providing the food and maintained her role as wife and mother of taking care of her husband and children. If she does it wrong, the husband complains. Maybe he yells at her. Is that love? When they go to bed at night, the husband is feeling good because he sat on the couch when he got home, but she is dead tired, but he still wants sex. Is that love? She was not given to man for him to use any way he wishes, but for him to love her.
Most people know about the famous “love” chapter of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13. “Love” is not all about using that woman any way the husband wishes. Paul tells us how to love. “Love is patient, love is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4). That means that the guy who blows up at his wife after she has worked hard all day because she is too tired to have sex is not loving her. That means that the man sitting on the couch after a hard day’s work expecting his wife to get his dinner is not loving her. She is not an inanimate object to be used. She is a human being to be loved. If women are expected to go out of the house and work like the men do, then she can’t be his hand maiden too. She can’t be his servant if he loves her.
Paul goes on teaching us to love, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self seeking, its not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). Paul is telling us how we are supposed to conduct ourselves toward that person we say we love.
I am appealing to Christian men everywhere to take all the scriptures, not just the part they think makes them the Lord and master and their wife their servant. Don’t take things out of context. The woman has a brain. The woman has feelings. She is not an inanimate object to be used by man. She is his helper. She desires to be good to him, and he should have the same desire toward her. If the women need to go out and work, then the men should be helping them when they get home so the women can rest on the couch too. She should never be forced into doing things. She needs to be respected and treated like she has a brain because she does. I understand that it is not the custom in many churches for women to preach, and if women were to stand up and preach, it would cause trouble, so I am not advocating that. I just see danger in the way the men in the churches talk about the women because it is not how God talks about them and there are men who take those statements too far and end up abusing their wives when they hear those statements. Just as those women are trying hard to please their husbands, the husbands should be trying hard to take care of their wives, not using her as a servant or a tool, but loving her.